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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Break Room

Keep Calm and Carry-On: Pack for 1 Week in 1 Suitcase

The good news: You're spending a week at a conference or in your company's office in another city. The bad news: Your employer is paying for the flight—but checked bag fees? Not so much. And trying to cram a week's worth of outfits into your carry-on is not exactly going well.

Well, we at The Daily Muse have endured more business trips than we'd care to remember, and we've got the packing challenge down to a T. Here’s our no-fail, carry-on size packing list: just eight pieces plus three pairs of shoes, and how to make it work all week long.

Your Packing List

  • 1 classic black dress in a no-wrinkle material like knit or stretch wool, like this shift “Betty” dress from Theory.
  • 1 patterned wrap dress. Yes, you can use this as your excuse to buy a DVF wrap dress, but I also love this more wallet-friendly option from Jack and Ginger.
  • 1 knee-grazing skirt in a neutral color and your favorite fit, like pencil, A-line, or tulip.
  • 2 short-sleeved blouses or tanks. Your tops will be the key to mixing up your look, so make two totally opposite selections, like a graphic print and a bright solid.
  • 2 not-too-businessy, not-too-casual blazers, one in a neutral like black, white, or grey, and one in something colorful.
  • 2 pairs of tall-but-comfortable heels. Take one pair of black, and one in another neutral, like nude or brown.
  • 1 pair of super-comfy flats. These are essential for commuting (and running through the airport!) but should look professional enough if you need to wear them around the office.
  • As many accessories as you can reasonably fit. Belts, scarves, and statement jewelry will help pull your looks together and make it look like you brought far more outfits than you really did.
  • Winter additions: If you're traveling in the colder months, swap heels for knee-high boots, bring three pairs of knit tights, and wear the heaviest work-appropriate jacket you own on the plane.
  • Your Looks


    Start the week off with a classic look: a bold-colored, solid tank with a neutral blazer and skirt. Then, make it your own with accessories, like a multi-strand necklace or this funky ikat bracelet. Heels feel like too much after sleeping on the plane all night? Throw on your flats, which will look perfectly professional paired with the rest of the pieces.


    After you've slept off the jet lag, kick things up a notch with this fun, feminine look. Start with your black dress, then throw on the bold blazer, a pretty ruffled scarf, and plenty of jewelry. Neutral pumps keep the look light and airy, while still completely office-ready.


    Bust out your patterned dress in the middle of the week, since it's the only piece you won't be mix-and-matching. All you need to complete the look is your black pumps and a single piece of standout jewelry.


    The black dress you donned on Tuesday will look completely different when it's paired with another blazer and a big, bright necklace. If you have a day of meetings, wear black pumps, and if you're running around town, throw on your flats.


    When Friday, comes, have some fun with a graphic tank, your bold blazer, and black-and-gold accessories like a chunky belt and bracelets. When paired with your pencil skirt, it's all totally work-appropriate.

    Friday Night

    Headed out after work? Ditch the blazer and add great jeans, statement jewelry, and a clutch, and your graphic top becomes instantly evening-ready.


    If you're planning on a day of shopping or brunching, throw on your jeans, the solid tank from Monday, and flats. If it's a chilly, just throw on the scarf or a blazer.

    Photo courtesy of Highways Agency.